When I was pregnant with my third, I was immediately welcomed into the ‘more than two children’ mum’s alliance. Complete strangers assured me, that ‘the third child is easier than the second’ and that ‘going from two to three was easier than from one to two’. Some people mentioned how their older child was a great help, I was held to ransom by my entrepreneurial 5 year old, who learnt very quickly that if baby was covered in **** and I needed another pack of wipes, she could pretty much negotiate anything!! Even friends and family with more than two, lied blatantly to my face about the workload and life changes involved in having three children. Maybe their well meaning comments were a desperate attempt to assure themselves that they did the right thing to have that third child, or maybe they were so damn tired during the early months of having three, that they were actually delusional about what it was really like!!
If you are considering having a third, here’s a summary of some of the challenges you may face, they can all be over-come (except maybe growing an extra arm!) in one way or another and for me, were well worth it in the end!!
So, once you are a family of five or more, you no-longer fit into the average family bracket. Family tickets are generally for two adults and two children, hotel rooms are predominantly for families of up to four and if you have three under-fives, just try getting three car seats in the back of an average family car!! You only have two hands, space for two on your lap and when you try to go swimming at your local pool- the computer says ‘no’!! You, as a couple, are officially outnumbered!!
You need to be places at particular times! With your first, you can stay in or leave the house as you please. You may have appointments to attend but they are of your choosing and can be scheduled around nap times. The second (with the average 2 ½ year age gap) is similar at the start, nothing too ridged in day-to-day life. Once you are on to the third child, (providing you haven’t got twins) even if you popped them out in quick succession, the oldest will be committed to some sort of activity, nursery or in my case, school. Whether they have to get there (in the case of full time school) or not, you will want to keep the routine, especially if it means one less child for a few hours! But the walking or driving backwards and forwards to different activities means that the baby sleeps far too much in the day. I was a zombie for the first 10 months of the Boy’s life, as he never slept at night and I was so tired during the day, I couldn’t bring myself to wake him!
The car. As I mentioned before, getting three car seats in the back of a family car is virtually impossible as the middle seat is too narrow. We ended up with a Landrover Discovery monster (not the most economical to say the least!) because it was one of the few that had equal sized back seats plus the bonus of an extra two seats in the boot for grandparents, friends or hitch-hikers ;). Now, I couldn’t be without a seven-seater, I know it sounds crazy but it’s actually far easier if they all have play-dates at the same time- that means collecting six kids from school!!
Holidays. We just have to be more organised! Hotels do cater for larger families but I’ve learnt to search via our criteria, rather than look for a hotel I like, only to be disappointed that they can only offer us adjoining or two separate rooms (far more expensive than one larger room). We got away with it while the Boy was still in a cot- he was in a cot on holiday until his head and feet touched both ends (#badmother!)
So why did we have a third? For the simple reason of trying for the ‘elusive boy’. With J’s sister being the only girl out of nine cousins and siblings, and the fact that the sperm determines a baby’s sex, I fully expected to have another girl. J may well have built a man-cave at this point and lived, as a recluse, in the garden! But, we got our boy. And no, we would not have tried again, had he been a girl!!!
When I see a family with three children, and the older two are different genders, I still can’t help thinking ‘why would you have a third?’
Well, we’re now out of the other side and past the ‘baby/ toddler’ stage! Though I wouldn’t change it for the world, it really wasn’t that easy and I’m sure having three will continue to present challenges, being truly outnumbered by my children!! At least I have a greater chance of one of them looking after me in later life! There are of course, many positives to having three children, I just can’t think of any more right now………….. 😉
Do you have three or more children? Are you considering having a large family? What have you found to be your greatest challenge with a larger family?